John Rennie (MI6 officer)

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John Rennie

Born(1914-01-13)13 January 1914
Died30 September 1981(1981-09-30) (aged 67)
Lambeth, England
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford
OccupationIntelligence officer
Spouse(s)Jennifer Margaret Wainwright
ChildrenDavid Rennie
Espionage activity
AllegianceUnited Kingdom Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Service branchSecret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6)
Service years1968–1973
RankChief of the Secret Intelligence Service

Sir John Ogilvy Rennie, KCMG (13 January 1914 – 30 September 1981)[1] was the 6th Director of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1968 to 1973. He was once the head of the Information Research Department (IRD), a secret branch of the UK Foreign Office dedicated to pro-colonial and anti-communist propaganda during the Cold War.


Educated at Wellington College and Balliol College, Oxford, Rennie joined an advertising agency in New York City in 1935.[2][3] During World War II he worked at an organisation in Baltimore combating German propaganda.[2]

In 1946 he joined the Foreign Office and was posted to Washington D.C. and then to Warsaw.[2][3] In 1953 he was appointed Head of the Information Research Department, a controversial body established to disseminate information about the dangers of Soviet-style communism.[2] During the Suez Crisis he chaired a committee established to disseminate British propaganda in the Middle East.[3][2] He was posted to Buenos Aires in 1958 and Washington D.C. in 1960.[2] He served on the Civil Service Commission in 1966.[2] Then in 1968 he was appointed Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service.[3][2]

On 15 January 1973, Rennie's son Charles Tatham Ogilvy Rennie, and his daughter-in-law were arrested for an alleged involvement in the importation of large quantities of heroin from Hong Kong.[2] Rennie resigned not long afterwards.[2]

He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1967.[2][3]


  1. ^ "Rennie, Sir John (Ogilvy), (13 Jan. 1914–30 Sept. 1981), Deputy Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1967–74". Who's Who & Who Was Who. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u168478. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k John Rennie at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ a b c d e "Sir John Rennie obituary". The Times (61045). 2 October 1981. p. 14.
Government offices
Preceded by Chief of the SIS
Succeeded by